US Embassy In Russia Halts Issuance Of Non-Immigrant Visas, Moscow Vows "Retaliation In Kind"

The latest escalation in the deteriorating diplomatic relations between the US and Russia was unveiled this morning, when the US embassy in Russia announced it was scaling back its visa services in Russia after Moscow ordered it to sharply cut its diplomatic staff in retaliation over new U.S. sanctions, and would suspend all non-immigrant visa operations in Russia starting August 23, although visa operations will be resumed on September 1, but only in the main embassy building in Moscow.

US embassy in Moscow

As disclosed in the US embassy statement, "as a result of the Russian government’s personnel cap imposed on the U.S. Mission, all nonimmigrant visa (NIV) operations across Russia will be suspended beginning August 23, 2017.  Visa operations will resume on a greatly reduced scale.  Beginning September 1, nonimmigrant visa interviews will be conducted only at the U.S. Embassy in Moscow.... As of 0900 Moscow time Monday, August 21, the U.S. Mission will begin canceling current nonimmigrant visa appointments countrywide.

The greatly reduced US mission in Russia also said that "the U.S. Embassy in Moscow and three consulates will continue to provide emergency and routine services to American citizens, although hours may change."

"Capacity for interviews in the future will be greatly reduced because we have had to greatly reduce our staffing levels to comply with the Russian government’s requirement," the embassy told applicants in a note on its web site.

While previously Russian citizens could apply for tourist visas in local US consulates in St. Petersburg, Yekaterinburg and Vladivostok, today's announcement ends this practice, forcing applicants to go to the Russian capital: "NIV interviews at the U.S. Consulates in St. Petersburg, Yekaterinburg, and Vladivostok are suspended until further notice... The staffing changes will also affect the scheduling of some immigrant visa applicants.  Affected applicants will be contacted if there is a change as to the time and date of their interview."

The move, which will further sour already battered U.S.-Russia relations, means Russian citizens wanting to visit the United States for tourism will no longer be able to apply via U.S. consulates outside Moscow and will have to travel to the Russian capital instead.

The action comes on the heels of Moscow’s order to cut the American diplomatic corps by 755 people and bring it to the numbers equivalent to Russian diplomatic staff in the US, which is 455 people. To meet the deadline of the Russia’s order, which expires on September 1, the US diplomatic mission has already begun “planning for departures and staff reductions.”

The US embassy in Moscow also condemned Moscow’s decision on the diplomatic staff reduction, saying that it casts doubt on the will to improve the bilateral relations. “Russia’s decision to reduce the United States’ diplomatic presence here calls into question Russia’s seriousness about pursuing better relations,” the embassy statement said.

Maria Zakharova, a spokeswoman for the Russian Foreign Ministry, said earlier this month that the United States had issued around 150,000 visas to Russian citizens last year. The U.S. embassy signaled its new scaled back visa regime could be in place for some time. "We will operate at reduced capacity for as long as our staffing levels are reduced," it said.

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Shortly after the announcement, A Russian senator quoted by RIA news agency said that Russia will respond in kind to U.S. visa changes: "New U.S. visa rules for Russians are a demarche", RIA Novosti reported, citing member of Federation Council Andrey Klimov.

Separately, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said that the US decision to scale back visa services in Russia was an attempt to stir up ill-feeling among ordinary Russians against the authorities. Lavrov, speaking at a joint news conference in Moscow with Egyptian Foreign Minister Sameh Shoukry, said that "the American authors of these decisions have come up with another attempt to stir up discontent among Russian citizens about the actions of the Russian authorities. It's a well known logic ... and this it the logic of those who organize color revolutions," Lavrov told reporters.

Lavrov, who said the decision suggested Washington didn't think its reduced diplomatic staff could adapt to new circumstances, said Russia would carefully study the U.S. decision and promised that Moscow would not take out its anger on ordinary U.S. citizens.


dogismycopilot Mon, 08/21/2017 - 06:19 Permalink

While many wealth Russians will be pissed off about this, the truth is that they are at risk of being illegally arrested in the US and the smart Russians will stop visiting the US.

Dutti svayambhu108 Mon, 08/21/2017 - 07:17 Permalink

The US is continuing to shoot themselves in the foot.They work hard to reduce the inflow of visitors not only from Russia who spend significant amounts of funds for tourism, but also for investment (condos, homes etc.).More importantly, the US sends a signal also to the rest of the world's tourists and investors to stay away.I have met many well off non US citizen friends and acquaintances from all over the world who have decided not to travel to the US anymore because of unpleasent reported experiences at airports when boarding a US bound airplane and when entering the country at US airports etc.I am talking specifically about high quality people from the developed western world who have no intention to immigrate, overstay or otherwise be a burden to the US. Many of these concerns are not even based on personal experiences but on reported occurences. Personally, I never had any problems or undue delays when entering the US.Well off visitors have also cut back on travel to muslim countries like Egypt, Tunisia etc. because of safety concerns. They even cut back on travel to Europe because of the uncontrolled migration flow to these countries.With all the problems going on in many other parts of the world, the US would have a unique opportunity to benefit it's economy - but NO, the US feels there is no need to court valuable tourist dollars.

In reply to by svayambhu108

Lumberjack Dutti Mon, 08/21/2017 - 08:14 Permalink

Yup, but illegals with serious criminal records are allowed to pour in unhindered, get drivers licenses, free medical care, housing and welfare. WTF? Are russian spies gonna get the secret navigational methods of the Navy?

OH wait? The Israeli's already have them... keep that one quiet!

In reply to by Dutti

fx HowdyDoody Mon, 08/21/2017 - 07:07 Permalink

Upon reading this I cannot but ask myself what the hell the remaining 455 people are doing all day long? I mean, if visa issuance virtually comes to a halt, wtf are all these people busy with? Chasing Russian girls and conspriring to influence Russian elections, for sure. But what about the remaining 20 hours of an average working day?

In reply to by HowdyDoody

BarkingCat Looney Mon, 08/21/2017 - 09:05 Permalink

This will likely backfire. I was told last week by someone who was visiting Turkey and heard the Russian vacationers there talking about the US that they were extremely anti-US.This person speaks fluent Russian so understood everything.Also thought that it was because Russian media bombards Russians with propaganda, but that is another story.

In reply to by Looney

new game dark fiber Mon, 08/21/2017 - 07:03 Permalink

deep state wants to spend money bigly with a moar formidable opponent. big war means big money spent. simple shit maynard.msm has the progressive nationalists hating russia, so sure, let us fight the "comie bastards".makes perfect sense if you are ina position to get benifits from this. p-lus these fuks are soiciopaths.all normal behavior to them. get in line mofo, killing to be done...

In reply to by dark fiber

NAV new game Mon, 08/21/2017 - 08:39 Permalink

This is a sanctions war. When you start it, you are asking for repercussions. And they can be severe. One of the causes of WWII was the tigntening of US relationships with Japan, i.e., sanctions to the point where Japan couldn't take it any more - leading to the fear that the US may take military steps. With events moving rapidly in China and throughout the South Pacific, Japan calculated that war with America was coming. The Japanese military concluded that they needed to remove the US naval potential then based at Pearl Harbor before the war started. And thus Pearl Harbor happened.This kind of tension today could lead to an open war with Russia, for example, when Russian bombers are sent to take out potential US air power based in Europe, Alaska, and other locations. This would happen if Russia concludes that war is coming and it would be to her advantage to remove the.air attack danger first.In both cases, US actions led and are leading to war.

In reply to by new game

kochevnik NAV Mon, 08/21/2017 - 10:44 Permalink

Sanctions crippled Japan as they are island with few natural resources. Russia is opposite. USA sanctions are mostly a joke. We were flooded with cheap imports with Yeltsin and domestic production suffered. Even then few American products, mostly potato chips and snickers. Everyone knows most Russian products superior quality to imported, but foreign marketing was potent. Now domestic production can again regain position. I only need best products, and always will be market for the best

In reply to by NAV

Spetzco Mon, 08/21/2017 - 06:29 Permalink

I've concluded that we are a petty and mean-spirited nation. Reminds me of the time my girlfriend had her passport stolen in Milan. The US consulate official there told her that she would need her passport to gain get a replacement passport. Looney indeed.  USA, USA, USA (repeat until hoarse....)

LindseyNarrate… (not verified) Mon, 08/21/2017 - 06:28 Permalink

Who-the-fuck-else is sick-and-tired of feeling like we have been hoodwinked by Candidate Trump? The man who is in-office is NOT, NOT, NOT!!! acting like the man for whom we voted, and elected--NO FUCKING WAY. Lindsey

fx LindseyNarrate… (not verified) Mon, 08/21/2017 - 07:11 Permalink

As Bannon said, the presidency of hope for real change is OVER!The only thing that I do not understand is why bannon still wants to go to war FOR Trump? That orange clown has thrown everybody under the bus who tried to be loyal to Trump AND loyal to the promises made to the people.In the result, we now have only (armchair) generals and goldman scum in the administration. All were appointed by the Donald. Yes, there is huge obstruction by the deep state and the republican establishment. But still, Trump cannot distance himself from his very own nominations and actions.Fuck this clown in chief! Traitor!

In reply to by LindseyNarrate… (not verified)

RedBaron616 LindseyNarrate… (not verified) Mon, 08/21/2017 - 07:30 Permalink

If you had bothered to look at Trump's background, you would have had good reason not to trust all his sudden conservative rhetoric on the campaign trail. I look at what a politician has done, not what they SAY they will do. Actions show intent much better than words. That said, the last time the GOP had a decent candidate was Ronald Reagan, which is why I no longer consider myself a Republican and refuse to ever vote for one again. They lie to any extent to be elected. I wrote the Constitution Party candidates in this past Presidential cycle.

In reply to by LindseyNarrate… (not verified)

BarkingCat RedBaron616 Mon, 08/21/2017 - 09:38 Permalink

That's not true about Trump's past.There are interviews from 20 plus years ago that show his major positions have remained consistent. The disappointment is with Trump being such a pussy. Obama had bigger balls than Trump.However, while there is a lot to complain about, Trump election has already returned huge dividends.We cannot forget that.Border Patrol is allowed to do its job.TPP is long forgotten. The Paris accord is as well.Bureaucracy has been ordered to stop creating news rules and regulations and existing ones are being rolled back.  

In reply to by RedBaron616

Spetzco Mon, 08/21/2017 - 06:32 Permalink

Yup, kinda feeling that way as well....     (still, beats having to listen to bats*it crazy criminal canckles for the next 3 1/2 years)

Youri Carma SoDamnMad Mon, 08/21/2017 - 07:08 Permalink

I think they don't worry about that since the whole turbine deal has been invalidated trough the new sanctions;July 19, 2017 / 5:47 PM / a month agoRussia will struggle to turn on Siemens turbines in sanctions-bound Crimea… 21, 2017 Siemens Stops Turbine Sales to Russia in Sanctions Dispute… 5, 2017 / 1:54 PM / 16 days agoRussia: new EU sanctions over Siemens turbines violate international law…

In reply to by SoDamnMad

effendi Mon, 08/21/2017 - 06:44 Permalink

So how many thousands of (mostly wealthy) Russian tourists will not be coming to the US and spending how many thousands of dollars (each) in high end hotels, restaurants, bars and fashion boutiques? Seems to me that the US will be hurting itself as those tourists spend their time and money either at home or in other countries that put out the welcome mat (the shopping is great and the people a bit classier in Milan compared to NYC)